Ronald Fleming, right, executive director of UCI Transportation & Distribution Services, helps U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh connect an electric car with a campus charging station, with Chancellor Howard Gillman, UC Regent John A. Pérez, UCI Vice Chancellor for Research Pramod Khargonekar, U.S. Rep. Mike Levin and Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan looking on. Steve Zylius / UCI

United States Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh came to UCI Friday to meet with Chancellor Howard Gillman and other campus leaders and University of California dignitaries. The visit centered on workforce implications of developing more sustainable transportation infrastructure, including a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations, a key component of proposed legislation currently being negotiated in Congress. Two local Congressional representatives, Katie Porter from California’s 45 District, and Mike Levin of the state’s 49th district, attended the meeting, as did City of Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan.

Secretary Walsh was shown an array of UCI sustainable transportation assets, including electric vehicle charging facilities in parking lot 70, a fully electric passenger bus, part of the university’s zero-emissions public transportation fleet, a pickup truck equipped with a mobile, rapid charging system, and a collection of electric vehicles, including a zero-emission cargo/work truck that operates on the campus.

Scott Samuelsen, founding director of UCI’s Advanced Power and Energy Program, and Jack Brouwer, current APEP director and head of the National Fuel Cell Research Center, discussed a variety of research projects happening at UCI with the goal of decarbonizing transportation in the United States. Rep. Porter, a professor in UCI’s School of Law prior to being elected to Congress, displayed her pride in the institution by informing the Labor Secretary of the school’s preeminence in serving diverse and underserved communities in California and beyond.